How to Prevent Your Car From Being Broken Into in Five Easy Steps

Car theft 1 photo
Photo: APU Ltd.
Stealing objects from cars is a crime that probably started shortly after cars were invented.
It is a problem in most countries and anyone can become a victim. Unfortunately, there’s no certain way to fully prevent your car from being broken into, but theft deterrents do exist.

We are speaking about solutions that make it more difficult for a prowler to steal things from inside your car. It’s clear that an experienced burglar needs less than 30 seconds to remove valuables from your car, even if it is locked, but it is all a matter of probability.

So, instead of hoping and praying that you will not be a victim of thieves that target cars, we propose a few ideas that will make the theft less probable. It is as close to science as it gets, because you just have to tick a few boxes from our list (preferably all) to ensure you will not be the next person targeted by thieves.

As we explained, probability in car thefts works on several factors. The crime itself is based on opportunity. If you eliminate opportunities of theft from criminals, you may not become a target because there might be someone else more vulnerable around. Logic dictates that thieves will prey on easy victims. This strategy ensures a good success rate for them and less hassle with complex security systems.

If you want to prevent thieves from targeting your car, the solution includes a variety of methods that need to be applied every time you use the vehicle. As we said, this is a crime of opportunity, so leaving your keys in the ignition “just this once,” or not locking your doors to pick up a second load of shopping might make you an instant victim of an opportunist thief. So, here is a list of things we suggest to do every time you use your car.

Always lock your doors and windows and keep the keys with you

For those of you who lock their cars every time they leave them, this might seem like pointless advice. But people do not lock their vehicles every time they use them, and that is a strong vulnerability for the safety of your vehicle. We also suggest locking the doors as soon as all the passengers have gotten inside the car, as some thieves attack while vehicles are stationary, but still have occupants inside.

Make sure you raise your windows all the way up and fully close the sunroof every time you leave the vehicle. An experienced thief could get into a vehicle that is completely locked, so leaving a window or sunroof slightly open makes the car a target for opportunists. This increases the probability of someone stealing your car or things you keep inside more that parking in a “bad neighborhood.”

Once all doors and windows are secured, lock your vehicle and check the doors to make sure it has actually followed your command. Some thieves target vehicles that have just stopped in a parking lot and slightly open a door on the opposite side of the driver and wait for them to lock it without looking back at it.

Other easy ways thieves can access your vehicle is by grabbing your keys. From there, some patient criminals copy the key and the chip, while others act as soon as possible. So do not keep your keys on the table when you are in an establishment, and never leave them with people you do not know (valets, gas station employees, parking attendants, etc.)

Also, never leave a spare key on your car, as it can easily be accessed by a crook. Instead, keep the spare key in a safe place in your house, and call a professional locksmith if you get locked out of your car.

Get an alarm system and avoid the brand-specific stickers on the windows

A quality car alarm system can be expensive, but it is worth the money if it keeps your vehicle safe from thieves. If you want to buy an alarm for your car, get a good one and pay for professional installation. Do not place all of the stickers the alarm manufacturer provides, as this will show the thief what system you have on your vehicle.

However, the flashing LED placed somewhere visible in the vehicle is a good deterrent for amateur thieves, as they may not have the equipment necessary to break into a car with an alarm system.

Do not fully trust the alarm to safeguard your belongings from thieves, as any system can be defeated. What an alarm does is slow down any theft attempt, and that is often the difference between becoming a victim and keeping your belongings safe. Unless you have a very desirable vehicle for a criminal, it will not be a target if there is a more vulnerable car in the vicinity.

Trust your instinct and do not park in places that do not feel safe

Another passive way to prevent the theft of your vehicle or your belongings is to park it in a safe place. Sure, this is not always a possibility, but you can try to avoid places with no lights and no security cameras. While the two elements do not guarantee the fact that your vehicle will be broken into, the eventual thief will have an easier job of breaking into the vehicle if there’s no easy way for someone to spot them.

At least, there is an option to avoid a secluded parking space. This leaves the crook without the opportunity to work on your car without the risk of being seen by a witness. If a vehicle is parked in a place where there are other cars, thieves might target a more vulnerable car instead of yours.

Another idea is to avoid parking in places where you see people hanging out for no apparent reason. Thieves might stick to a group and stake out people that are parking their cars to see if they leave anything of value inside their cars.

So do not leave any traces of GPS mounts on the windshield, conceal charging cables, hide shopping bags, and leave nothing that is not standard on the car visible from outside. Which brings us to our next tip.

Stow your things before arrival

You never really know if someone is watching what you do once you park your car. If a prowler found a vantage point and is looking for people stowing valuables in their vehicles before leaving them, you might become their “mark.” So try to stow every item you will not carry with you before you get to your parking spot. This is not an easy task, and cannot be accomplished every time.

If you have to leave things in your vehicle, make sure nobody sees you doing it. Look around to see if someone is watching in a nearby vehicle, or if a person is checking out your ride with unusual interest. There is still a chance a potential thief is on the watch, but do your best to put everything in the trunk beforehand and make sure you lock it.

Supplement the security of your vehicle

If your vehicle already has a good alarm system, there are a few things you can do to make it safer when it comes to theft attempts. Just remember there is no sure-fire way to stop a theft from happening, as even the most advanced systems can be hacked by professionals. However, it is not always worth it for a professional burglar to steal something from a vehicle that has no valuables in sight.

While a GPS-based monitoring system is a good idea, these can be defeated with special GPS jammers. Systems that have GSM monitoring have been on the market for a few years. These send out an alert once the signal is interrupted, or if a theft attempt is detected. Most services like these are subscription based, but they are worth it if they save your vehicle from thieves.

Unfortunately, GPS and GSM jammers are available on the internet. Thieves can also purchase special tools to start cars using the OBD II connectors, and they can also get tools usually reserved for locksmiths to open the doors just like they had the actual key.

Classic, window-breaking thefts can be prevented with the help of a transparent foil. We are talking about anti-theft window foil made by companies that are famous for their window tint foils. This type of foil is not cheap, but it prevents glass from shattering in case somebody tries to break it. It does not work like magic, but it will slow down any crook that tries this old school method.

Chemically etching the VIN or other identification numbers on the windows and parts of your vehicle is also a good idea. It is not an expensive procedure, but it will make selling parts from your vehicle difficult for thieves.

Another option to prevent your vehicle from being stolen altogether is the steering lock. We are not talking about the standard locks installed from the factory that jam the ignition and steering, but about those extra elements that are placed on the steering and prevent using it or the pedals if they are not removed. Thieves will not try to steal cars fitted with these, as the process is long and requires a lot of work, but the objects inside those cars are not safe once a perpetrator enters.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories